Back at my desk.
How did insentient matter spontaneously become living?
A clear implication of this sentence is that you consider living matter sentient matter.
Plus you imply a distinction between dead matter and living matter.
These are two points that i would like to discuss.
First i would say the matter that you are made of is not more alive than the matter a stone is made of.
We could also say that it's not less alive.
In a merely scientific discussion we would have to agree that it's not the matter you are made of that is alive, but you as a person (biological construction) are.
Being in a philosophical forum, i would also agree if we say that all matter is 'alive', at least this is a valid point of view from a logical perspective. [edit: i explane this in a later sentence]
The point i am trying to make is: There is nothing that turns dead matter into living matter. Matter is matter, regardless wether you regard it dead or alive.
Life was a chemical reaction in the first place.
It's in fact the only self perpetuating chemical reaction that we know of which has never ended.
Actually it is still the very same reaction that started billions of years ago.
It's as if on a different planet you make an experiment that makes some molecules light up for a moment, which normally don't light up by themselves. However the reaction doesn't stop, it continues making other pieces of matter light up for a second. You loose your interest in the experiment and leave this planet, however after a billion years you return and find it completely consisting of flickering glimmering matter (And even more interesting, the flickering is not random, but appears in patterns that support and maintain the reaction globally).
On earth the selfperpetuating reaction split up into billions of autonomous reactions but they all originate from the first reaction (which was kind of the way paulhanke described it). It is not unlikely that there were other (competing) selfperpetuating reactions that just didn't make it.
What makes this dead (or living) matter alive is certainly a question of complexity also. (A virus e.g. is not considerd to be living. Although this of course just a matter of definition).
The chemical reaction did not become alive all of a sudden. It took millions of years for the molecules to go through a process of transformation making them more robust and optimizing the reproduction process.
If we regard matter itself alive we could say that it has been alive all the time, the following process just took advantage of matter being sentient and increasing the complexitiy to a degree which made incredibly amazing features appear.
Should we actually regard matter being alive?
Nobody has really said matter was alive, so why do i even bring it up?
It was you connecting sentience to being alive and Salima regarding all matter as sentient.
First i was not too much into the idea of all matter being sentient to be honest, because there are too many unspoken implications of matter having a soul and so on, which could get us in deep esoteric trouble.
On the other hand Salima's idea is not really in opposition to my personal understanding of life - intelligence - information because matter being sentient in a way correlates with my idea of all matter (and energy) being information processing constituents of our universe.
Now what i normally regard as sentience is in fact a more complex kind of information processing.
So, why not talk in Salima's terms and say ok, if all matter is sentient (information processing) and sentience being a property of life, jeepr's sentence leads to matter being alive.
From a philosophical and logical perspective i can see some truth in this perspective.
However we must be very careful not to accept all possible implications at the same time. This does not automatically prove a universal soul, and it does not make a stone AS alive as a human person.
In fact by winding down the terms life and sentience to such a primitive level, we create a requirement of words expressing the much more progressed states of life and emotion.